Gray Church (Methodist then United)
1915 - 1982
The first Methodist church district in the area included Buck Lake, Milestone and Wilcox. In 1905, Iowa School joined this circuit, with Dr. F.B. Ball as minister. The next year Milestone left for another circuit. Mr. Surtees became the minister for the local charge receiving a salary of $500/yr and $40/yr horse-keeping expenses. In 1909 there were 57 members registered on the Iowa church membership roll and six on probation. Church membership was not easily obtained and later records showed members being 'struck off' for non-attendance or having left the district. In 1910-11 there was another shuffle and Riceton joined Buck Lake and Iowa, and became a separate circuit with Reverend Dunlop - now salaried at $1000/yr and $100/yr horse-keeping (in the summers he opted for using his motorcycle). A farmhouse was moved into Riceton to serve as a manse in 1913. The Iowa School congregation had now become so large that a new church was to be constructed in Gray. Buck Lake closed in 1919.
The first church in Gray was built in 1914 (initially as a Methodist Church) on flat bridge planks, an accepted method of construction at the time. The supervising carpenter was Mr. Lillebeau. The plan was similar to the Wilcox church, except the floor sloped slightly towards the front. The Ladies Aid Society (formed in 1914) did much of the organizing and fundraising required to furnish the new facility.
Lightning struck in 1916 and caused a fire in the spire as well as damage to the roof and some interior plaster. Heavy rain followed that snuffed out the fire, so effectively the full extent of the damage of the burning inside the wall was not realized till the building was torn down in 1983. Fundraising allowed a concrete basement to be added in 1920. The church was raised on blocks and timbers, the basement was dug with horses and slush scrapers the forms were built, concrete was mixed by hand on the site. Finally the church was lowered on the finished concrete structure. A new coal-burning furnace was installed for heating. The new basement space was now used as a community gathering venue as well as for church groups - Temperance Society, Christian Girls In Training - CGIT, Explorers, Tyros, Tuxis Boys, Mission Band).
In 1921 the Tuxis Boys church group purchased a Victor 12-Volt projector. A lighted and hand-cranked moving picture machine. Films changed every week and were sourced through a mail-order service from Regina. to host movie nights.
In 1925 the church celebrated the burning of the church mortgage. Later that same year they chose to become part of the United Church of Canada. Estlin joined Gray and Riceton - so three churches were served on the Riceton Charge. Gray was honoured to have the Moderator of the United Church of Canada Reverend Dr. Nicholson preach September 16 1950.
1954 was the year the title to the property for the Gray Cemetery was turned over to the church.
At the Golden Jubilee service held in Riceton Reverend Ball, preached at Buck Lake and Iowa in 1905) presented the sermon. The 50th Anniversary of Gray Church was celebrated in 1964 with a noon luncheon at Gray Memorial Hall.
In 1965 a manse (lodging for the minister) was built on the corner of Main Street and 3rd Avenue.
As of 1968, the church basement had deteriorated to the extent that SUnday School classes were moved to the Gray School. By May 1979 it was determined that a remodel was not possible and a building committee was formed for a new church.
The church building was sold and demolished in April 1983.